During Ramadan we’d normally work late into the evenings but Covid curfew restricted that to just a few hours a day, a relief after not working during two months of full lockdown. I’m a dental hygienist and have worked across the spectrum here, from Bedouins to Royalty. I arrived in Riyadh 38 years ago – originally for a 3 month contract to pay off UK student debt!

I spent the first 13 years treating medically compromised patients in the Military Hospital before taking the leap from Government to Private Practice. Our clinic continues to expand where I am now a partner. 

I was born in Oamaru and grew up in Upper Hutt. I worked for a dentist in Lower Hutt before School Dental Nurse training. I was posted to Northland, I loved it there. I eventually left for my big Overseas Experience and during that I completed further training in Glasgow.

Currently I’m living in part of a converted villa, to conserve funds for Sri Lanka where I’m constructing a small guest house for my eventual retirement. With just one sister in Auckland and friends all over the world, Sri Lanka is a convenient location to connect.

I am single, but I have three babies… a baby grand piano, safely shipped to Sri Lanka after the last missile attacks and two Pomeranian’s with me here. 

Despite women  driving now, I’m keeping on my loyal Bangladeshi driver as he remains calm amidst the frequent chaos on the roads. I have had a great life here and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. The Saudis are some of the most hospitable, generous and accommodating people that I have been lucky in life to meet.


Image supplied by interviewee

This interview and the others in the series are an extension of my new book “This Is Us” it is in all good bookshops in New Zealand now.

This Is Us – the diaspora in lockdown – these interviews are slightly different from the ones in the book as they focus on New Zealanders living abroad in this time of isolation.  Copyright Licensing have awarded me a grant to complete this project and convert these postings into a book.

If you can think of suitable interview subjects please let me know via pete@petecarter.nz – I currently need interviews in the more unusual places around the world.

Exisle have released This Is Us as an e-book you can buy it here.

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Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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